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The other Petros Kostopoulos

04 March 2012 / 14:03:09  GRReporter
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Personal testimony of Pavlos Papadopoulos, who worked for six years in the Kostopoulos magazines.

Contrary to the recent trend to write malicious and envious comments about the rise and fall of Petros Kostopoulos, I would like to start by saying that I worked in his magazines from 1993 to 1999 and I feel great respect for him and his contribution to the development of printed media. My personal opinion is that Kostopoulos has abilities, that can help him make an impressive comeback. We're not friends. After the year 1999 I met him by chance 3-4 times. In recent years I have rarely read his magazines and I did not like his television shows. Petros was the victim of all fashionable trends for whose rise in Greece he also contributed and he got carried away with the life of the nouveau riche. Many of his assistants left him because although he was and he still is a brilliant and generous person, his ego, fed by success grew so much that it could fill up the Olympic Stadium. Offensive language was the main reason for his downfall.

Moreover, Kostopoulos could not become an exception to the rule that the original stuff from the past are becoming routine and conservative in the future. This rule, of course, presents just one side of the truth. The other side says that the rebels are known from the crowd, even when they have become some status quo.

Manifesto of the "CLICK" Magazine

When I met him in early 1993 Kostopoulos was still rebellious. He was 39 years old and he had been working in the editorial office of the magazine "CLICK" for 6 years. The magazine was owned by Aris Terzopoulos, polite and knowledgeable editor who combined western aesthetics with Eastern spiritual and religious quests, but in fact "CLICK" was Petros. The magazine started out in April 1987 and since then Costopoulos gathered in the office building located on No. 7 "Frangoklisiyas" str. in Amarousiou all talents of the "new journalism" - Yannis Nenes, George Panopoulos, Sofia Kindi, Panagiotis Georgopoulos, George Pavrianos, Dimitris Galanis, Dimitris Pagadakis and many others. They worked to create a disrespectful, aggressive and intelligent magazine that became a legend because at every occasion it had and on each page it supported a heretical and yet charming individualism.

It is a widely spread on the political science notion, that prosperity weakens the connections in a team and leads to its collapse because it activates the desire and ability of individuals and groups to abandon their traditional mass codes and without compromise to rush into a new way of life, i.e. to create a new lifestyle.

The magazine "CLICK" has been the manifest for this change. The rejection of marriage and family, constantly welcoming all manifestations of sexuality, the faith in the rule of individual effort, ridicule the stereotypes in public speech, cold-blooded attitude to drugs, adoption of new forms of entertainment, the support for new technologies, the revival of individual identity through consumption, the desire for youth, the worship of one’s own self, the presentation of new models of male and female beauty, ironic criticism of the policies and militant support of the opinion that "one forges his own future", this was all the "DNA" of the magazine "CLICK".

These "structural values" combined with humor self-sarcasm and the immediate way of writing, explain the power and success of "CLICK". Articles and reports which had these features expressed the views of many young people influencing virtually the entire industry of printed and electronic media. Many have tried to create a "second CLICK" but failed because although they could rewite the pages of "CLICK" they could not steal the "DNA" of the magazine, which stood locked in Kostopoulos’s head.

So, contrary to all claims that "CLICK" has been expressing the "aesthetics of PASOK," the truth is that the magazine expressed the criticism and degradation of the party, and that happened at the right time, i.e. in the late 80s when teams of the past fell apart, because of the success of PASOK, mobilizing all resources to ensure the prosperity of the society and expand the choice of the Greeks.

Relationship with Andreas Papandreou

Kostopoulos has always been a supporter of PASOK, and if PASOK was kept forever, also Petros would always support it. It is the most uncompromising of all of Andreas Papandreou’s favorites. Petros was 20 years old when Papandreou returned to Greece on 16th of August, 1974 after the fall of the junta, and participated in the historic meeting at the Athens airport. He was taken there by Costas Laliotis, who is three years older than him and whom he became close friends with during the last years of the junta (1967 - 1974) and are friends to this day.

Shaking hands with Andreas Papandreou made him a follower of PASOK forever, as Petros likes to say. "It felt as if electricity went through my body", he admitted. Another thing he liked repeating, was that him and Andreas were born in the same day (5th of Feb). It was Papandreou who appointed him in 1981 on a high position in the Greek mission in Brussels. Then their paths separated, but when he returned to the government in 1993 Papandreou gave his first interview before Kostopoulos. It was published in the journal "ΜΕΝ" with the title "Andreas’s Great Comeback". Then they don’t see each other for a long time, but meanwhile Kostopoulos wrote for "CLICK" lots of articles against PASOK and its chairman, which naturally Andreas Papandreou read. "Why did you go so far against us?", he asked him once in front of the Prime Minister's residence. This is one of the few times when Petros, who always had an answer for everything, did not know what to say.

On 21st of November, 1995 Andreas Papandreou was admitted in the cardiac surgery center "Onassis". TV channels report that his health condition is critical. Petros was constantly talking on the phone with Laliotis. He had just established the publishing company ΙΜΑΚΟ. The second issue of the magazine "NITRO" was almost ready, but Petros stopped the issue. He wanted to dedicate the editorial to Andreas Papandreou, but ultimately he decided to write himself a large dedication. Petros never wrote himself, he didn’t even touch a computer, he always dictated, usually to Sofia Kindi, who was his close friend and an outstanding journalist.

That evening he dictated an exciting article dedicated to Andreas Papandreou, titled "The man who cares little about history." He considered Papandreou to be his "second father" and mourned the coming end of his life without tears and sorrow, but with courage, celebrating as a modern Zorbas. Papandreou, who read it because he didn’t die then, but seven months later also liked the farewell article.

The Intellectual Petros

In 1975 he went to Paris to study economics at the Sorbonne. He had no money, but the strength of his youth was enough. His father had a fortune, but in the 60s he gradually lost it, and in the 70s he already worked as a taxi driver in Volos. When he returned from Paris during the holidays and festivals Petros also drove the taxi to earn some pocket money. The money that his father sent him was not enough, and like many students he had to be very ingenious to make a living. 20 years later, in 1995, he remembers about those days in "CLICK" where money is plentiful and with the salary (15% on net profit), he built his house in Mykonos, which he now lost.

He returned from Paris with a doctorate in economics, and his thesis was influenced by the academic interests of Andreas Papandreou: "Economic development in the periphery of capitalism". Kostopoulos, however, does not pay too much attention to his diplomas and he rarely talks about them. His thesis remained forgotten, when he moved from his home in Tissio in the 90s. A friend of his, who is the next tenant of the house, found it thrown on the floor and brought it to him in "CLICK".

Petros did not want to be viewed as an intellectual and he didn’t like us to act as "thinking people". «You're not good for "CLICK"», he used to say to me. "You’re too smart". I answered him that he was "even worse intellectual", but he was hiding it thoroughly.

Kostopoulos’s philosophy is that if life is an inevitable path from the womb to the tomb, why not take smaller or greater risks in the interval that has been allotted to you. Why not even try the "wrong"?

He did not like intellectuals, because he knew and he identified himself with one of the most significant ones and perhaps others seemed fake to him. In Paris except for being the leader of the Greek students he was also one of the favorite students of Nikos Poulantsas, the internationally recognized theorist of structural Marxism.

The worship of one’s own self and the magic of individualism typical for Kostopoulos, can be interpreted as the influence of Poulantsas. The latter liked Kostopoulos for his wit, perseverance and confidence. They were arguing for hours.

"I once asked Poulantsas which books he would recommend me to read to better understand politics", Kostopoulos told me one afternoon. «"Read only "Ruller" by Machiavelli and you will understand everything", he replied without looking at me. You should also do this read "Ruller"».

In "CLICK" and "Nitro" we never discussed and we never wrote about deaths and funerals. He did not want that. "The dark side of life exists and we can not defeat it", he said. "Then why should we pay more attention to it than it deserves? We need to emphasize on the bright side".

How did he create the company ΙΜΑΚΟ

In August 1995 he returned from Mykonos and announced that he was leaving the "special editions" of Aris Terzopoulos in order to create his own journals. He told us that he asked for 15% of the ownership of "CLICK" but Terzopulos refused, and therefore he decided to quit. "I do not want to cause Aris any losses but I extend an open offer to all of you to work for me with the same pay", he said, adding his doubts: «I do not know if I would make it, and if you would have a job after 6 months, so the decision is entirely yours. If you are unsure, you should better to stay in "CLICK"». 78 out of 80 employees followed him without even thinking, we knew that without Petros there was no "CLICK".

It was not easy to work with Kostopoulos. His obsession with perfection drove all chief editors crazy and it often tortured the journalists and graphic designers. Many people think that he just sat in the leather chair, with his feet on the glass table, smoking a cigar while the magazine reached the newsstands as through some miracle. But the truth is that publishing is not easy. He was always searching and trying.

He often stopped the publication of a magazine two days before printing was completed. The term "Petros threw the edition in the garbage and we’ll now have to write it and make it again" was heard in the office 2-3 times a year. On the other hand salaries he paid were 2-3 times higher than in the other companies because he believed that talent should be well paid, and that journalists, photographers, stylists and graphic designers should participate in the success of the magazines.

"Uncle Petros" and sex

Petros knew about the life of every one of us, and when he saw us despondent he immediately wanted to know what was going on. He was always ready to give you an advice and support you. This is how his nickname "uncle" appeared. We never used it before him, but he knew we called him like this behind his back. "Where is uncle? What is uncle doing? What is uncle saying?". He hadn’t yet reached his 40s, but he had this fatherly style.

Many believe that "CLICK" and "Nitro" were sold, because every month they had an article about sex. But the truth is that it was the sex presented each month with the aesthetics, style and language of "CLICK" and "Nitro" that sold the magazines. Greek society was so hypocritical conservative that in 1988 there was a lot of fuss because "CLICK" published an article devoted to AIDS and it had a condom for a gift.

Greek society, however, and learns quickly. Among other things, "CLICK" and "Nitro" were something like an encyclopedia with series on the physical and psychic "anatomy of love" that many young people bought, read and loved. Petros believed that those who are scandalized by sex, do not know love and have bad taste. Once he stood up for the articles on sex, arguing that "Ancient Greeks also depicted erotic scenes on the amphorae to sell more". Many of his critics became his imitators, but nobody was able to "paint erotic scenes on the amphorae" with the same success ...

One topic that he always liked to comment on and discuss, were the great impressive comebacks in politics, art, sport, business. Now obviously he needs to see whether he himself can make his great comeback. Many are those who are sure they he will fail and they are very happy about that. His relationship with time is difficult. He is a maniac on the issue of youth and he’s trying to stay young through fitness, nutrition and hair transplants.

In February 1994, he turned 40 years old. "Are you afraid that you turned 40?" I asked him, with the complacency of a 22 years old. "Do you think you are saying goodbye to the youth?". "Nothing like that", he replied and continued with a good prophecy. "Just as at the age of 40 I am better than I was at the age of 20 I’ll also be better at the age of 60 than I am at 40." In February 2012 Kostopoulos turned 58 years old. Those of us who have no problem to admit that we have won a lot from working with him, wish him to find the strength within himself, to confirm his prophecy.


Tags: Petros Kostopoulos magazines CLICK Nitro IMAKO bankruptcy editorials
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